Captain Morgan plans to be the life of the party this Halloween. The Diageo-owned brand is cranking up its "Calling all captains" ad effort with a series of new TV ads, events and a photo contest.
Two new 15-second TV spots, "Captain Monster Party" and "Captain Extra Mile," show hosts how they can leverage Captain Morgan to throw a great Halloween celebration. The ads began airing last week on Comedy Central, ESPN, Spike TV and TBS.
To support, Captain Morgan is sponsoring three holiday events during Halloween weekend. Hallow-Dega, which is being held at the Talledega Speedway, will feature Nascar racing and costume contests for attendees. Captain Morgan will also host a Monster Party on Halloween night where the first 100 guests age 21 or older will be entered for a chance to win a ticket to the Nascar Camping World Mountain Dew 250.
At Key West's eighth annual Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest and New Orlean's Voodoo Music Experience, a Captain Morgan float will lead the parade to kick off the 10-day event. The brand will host a Halloween party for the 75,000 attendees, and in partnership with RollingStone.com  it will host three days of concerts.
"Halloween is definitely an important holiday for us," said Diageo Rums' director of marketing Tom Herbst. "We feel like Captain Morgan sort of owns Halloween. No other brand markets as much as we do and sees the return from it...Halloween has always also had an adult component to it and when that adult component reached mainstream, we felt that this was an opportunity to jump on it and bring the unique Captain energy to it."
Captain Morgan is also running a photo contest for the best monster costume at CaptainMorgan.com . Consumers can text or e-mail their best monster costume photos to win a trip for four to a monster party at Mardi Gras in February 2010.
The captain is a good fit for Halloween, which is one of the best-selling periods for alcohol during the year, according to alcohol industry consultant Arthur Shapiro of AM Shapiro and Associates. "With Captain Morgan, it's a swashbuckling character who's almost in costume," he said. Captain Morgan's history has always been to be involved with in-store promotion during [Halloween] and they are particularly good at it."
Captain Morgan is the No. 2 rum globally, second to Bacardi. In 2008, Captain Morgan experienced 10 percent net sales growth with 8.2 million 9-litre cases sold, per Diageo.
Diageo spent $10 million behind the brand for the first seven months of the year, per Nielsen. Last year, it spent $13 million.